Dell Study Finds ‘Alarming’ Use of Outdated IT by Federal Agencies

More than 70 percent of IT decision-makers in the federal government say their agencies are running out-of-date technology, according to research from Dell. In a follow-up to its "State of IT Trends 2016" study, released in July, Dell also found that more than half of the federal agencies studied are using operating systems that are past their official end of life.

The Dell study echoed the findings of a similar report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released in May. That study found the U.S. Department of Defense is still using floppy disks for some of its systems, and that the U.S. Department of the Treasury still uses a computer language first developed in the 1950s.

Legacy IT use has "potentially damaging consequences" for the federal government, according to Dell's research. In addition to being costly to maintain, outdated systems leave government agencies more vulnerable to cyber threats.

61% Still Using Windows 7, 8

Conducted by the market research firm Penn Schoen Berland, the online survey for Dell questioned 100 IT and business decision-makers at federal agencies in the spring.

"Despite prioritizing upgrading their IT systems, 71 [percent] are currently using old operating systems to run important applications," the report noted. The dominant outdated operating systems were Windows 7 and Windows 8, used by a combined 61 percent of respondents.

Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended in January 2015, although extended support is available through 2020, according to Microsoft. Mainstream support for Windows 8 is scheduled to end in January 2018.

Decision-makers responding to the survey identified cybersecurity as their top concern stemming from the use of legacy IT, with 42 percent choosing that option. The other choices included cost of system support (19 percent), limitations on the ability to modernize (16 percent), concerns about operation system failure (12 percent) and...

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